Nye Bevan would be ‘turning in his grave’ if he knew the state of Betsi, says MS
Aneurin Bevan would be “turning in his grave” if he knew about the current state of Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, according to an MS.
Llŷr Gruffydd, the MS for north Wales, has spoken out amid celebrations of the NHS’s 75th anniversary, which he says have been “overshadowed” by the ongoing crisis.
Mr Gruffydd, has accused the Welsh Government of trying to “dodge responsibility” for the problems at the health board, adding that it was an “insult to the memory” of Tredegar-born politician Bevan, who created the NHS in 1948.
He says that this is part of a “wider systemic failing” that has “happened under the watch” of Welsh Labour ministers, and has warned that there will be no NHS in Wales by the time of its centenary without “urgent and drastic action”.
The Plaid Cymru politician has called for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) to be broken up to make it manageable.
BCUHB which is the largest public sector organisation in Wales, covering just under a quarter of the population, has been beset with issues including a series of damning reports.
It has a budget of £1.9bn and employs 19,000 people and in the past eight years it has employed eight different chief executives.
In 2015 it was put into special measures by the then health minister Mark Drakeford, after “institutional abuse” of patients in the Tawel Fan mental health unit.
In late 2020, just months before the Senedd election, the Welsh Government took the decision to take the health board out of special measures in a move that was widely criticised at the time.
The then health minister, Vaughan Gething went on to claim that the decision was down to advice from the Auditor General for Wales, Adrian Crompton but Mr Crompton refuted that claim.
The health board was put back into special measures in February of this year following an Audit Wales report which found that the senior executive team was dysfunctional.
The independent board was forced to resign by the Health Minister Eluned Morgan, only for one of the newly appointed members, Lesley Singleton, to also resign just a week later.
Llŷr Gruffydd MS said: “It is right that we celebrate that seventy-five years ago, the NHS was born in Wales. This led the way in providing healthcare to all free at the point of need.
“Plaid Cymru is immensely proud of our NHS and the dedicated frontline staff who have provided invaluable healthcare services for the past 75 years.
“Unfortunately thirteen years of cruel Tory cuts and twenty-four years of Labour mismanagement and ineptitude has left the service on life-support. The catastrophic mess at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is a prime example of this failure.
“The result is that the long-suffering people of north Wales are not getting the health care they need or deserve.
“By putting Betsi in special measures, Welsh Government effectively runs the health board, yet ministers have repeatedly sought to evade being held accountable for the mess that they are ultimately responsible for.
“We have a health minister in Wales who has been openly trying to dodge responsibility by claiming that it’s ‘not her job’ to ‘have a grasp of things’.
“This is an insult to the memory of Aneurin Bevan, as well as to the hardworking frontline staff who aren’t being given the support or the resources they need, and to patients who aren’t receiving the care they deserve.
“If he knew what was happening at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, then he would surely be turning in his grave.
“So far the Welsh Government has stubbornly refused to face up to the reality that the health board is far too big and unwieldly to provide adequate health care to patients in North Wales.
“The dogmatic way that Labour ministers have gone about centralising health services in the area clearly hasn’t worked.
“It has been an unmitigated disaster, and the Welsh Government should do what it should have done a long time ago and admit that the health board needs to be broken up so that we can genuinely have a fresh start.
“Unfortunately, the problems in the NHS aren’t limited to North Wales. This is part of a wider systemic failing that has taken place under the watch of Welsh Government ministers.
“Waiting times are at record levels across the country, while staff and patients are at breaking point. It’s becoming more and more clear that the NHS won’t survive to celebrate its centenary without urgent and drastic action.”
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